Emmie Sahlan

Data in Health Care Can Bring Savings Opportunities

Data in health care is fundamental in improving the quality of care and its daily operations. Today, the health care industry has made huge developments in the way it gathers, processes and retrieves data for patient care, drug administration and insurance billing, among other areas, to save time and increase efficiency levels in attending to customer needs.

In the last few years, evidence-based medicine (EVM) has become a trend in the health care industry. This is when physicians appraise clinical data and make treatment decisions to address patients’ needs. According to TechTarget, EVM, which involves ongoing examination and clinical modification to guide decisions and optimize health care, is based on current findings, patient information, doctors’ expertise and other available data sources.

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Ways to Utilize Data

In a similar vein, gathering and analyzing data is especially crucial to employers who self-fund their health plans. As an employer, use data to evaluate your wellness programs’ effectiveness and resolve discrepancies in health care coverage. This way, you can help employees find the best affordable health care coverage that meets their health needs. Furthermore, if you detect an increase in insurance claims for a certain medical condition, you may want to tweak your wellness program or add a program to help with smoking cessation or weight loss.

By crunching captured data, you can track at-risk employees, or those who show early signs of chronic illness, such as diabetes. Additionally, determine which conditions contribute to high claimant costs. Since diet has the greatest impact on health other than physical activity, you can use data to track blood-glucose or cholesterol levels and incorporate educational sessions on healthy eating for at-risk employees. This can be a catalyst for employees to take a proactive role in managing their health.

The data gathered can save you a lot of time, as you can utilize it to tailor your health plan coverage or make adjustments to your wellness program according to your company’s demographics and claims history.

Use Innovation to Collaborate With Health Care Providers

Consider using technology to reach out to every at-risk employee or those with chronic health issues. To save time, you may want to collaborate with a health plan representative to urge employees to join your company’s wellness program, advise a more serious health intervention or refer them to support programs.

According to Tractica, the number of home health technology users will increase from 14.3 million worldwide in 2014 to 78.5 million by 2020. In this regard, you can encourage the use of health technologies that allow providers to remotely monitor patients with chronic conditions, track their fitness activities and enable them to virtually visit a physician.

A Word of Caution

As the employer, you should be careful when using data even with the best of intentions. Don’t treat privacy issues lightly. Employees need to understand what data is collected and for what purpose. Just as important, assure your employees that they won’t be discriminated by their health profile. A culture of trust and accountability should be established in a way that employees don’t feel pressured to have their data taken.

All in all, data in health care can be a boon, as it results in big saving opportunities in time and money. Employers and health care providers can modify wellness strategies and address specific employees’ needs to achieve better health and cost outcomes.

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